Appearing on the Society of Homeopath’s web site is a report that a member has been struck off their register. This is the first instance that I am aware of where the self-regulating body has taken the step of removing someone from their register regarding matters of their practice.
(Yes, SoH has removed people before and you can see a report on the same page, but this looks as if it was an offence concerning more to do with ‘relationships’ with a customer, rather than as a result of their direct practice.)
So, Ms. Alex Christie RSHom has been removed from the register. She is of course still free to practice and will simply be relieved of having to pay SoH her subscription fees. She may well join one of the other ‘regulators’ or just continue to practice without registration in her work at Neal’s Yard Remedies.
What was Ms Christie’s offence? The Society do not make this clear. There is no press release about this. No statement to warn the public about the nature of the problem. No reminder to homeopaths about the boundaries of what they should be doing.
What we do get is a list of rules that Christie has supposedly broken. We can see that she broke the rule that said that:
A competent homeopath identifies those occasions when a patient’s condition is:
- Beyond the present limits of their clinical competence and expertise
- Likely to receive more immediate, effective benefit from another form of treatment
- Showing signs and symptoms suggestive of an underlying condition which requires referral for investigation and other medical diagnosis
Of course, the problem with this rule is that homeopaths are systematically incompetent. By believing rather arrogantly that sugar pills are a ‘complete system of medicine, suitable for everyone’, as the Society describes homeopathy, then naturally we might see few expressed limits on competence. Indeed, we see wild claims that sugar pills can cure everything from hay fever, autism to cancer. One might jest that a client is ‘likely to receive more immediate, effective benefit from another form of treatment ‘ when they are simply ill. This rule, if honestly applied, could strike off any homeopath at any time for making claims that cannot be justified.
Given that homeopaths actually believe their sugar pills work magic, then it is difficult to see how a panel of homeopaths can decide that another homeopath is practicing beyond their expertise. The Society of Homeopaths has held conferences of homeopathic treatments for AIDS and shows no signs that this might be dangerous and murderous nonsense. Their directors believe sugar pills can replace childhood inoculations and even replace vaccines for dangerous third world diseases. Whatever Christie did, she must have really upset someone within the Society.
Tellingly, we are told that Christie broke the rule that says “When dealing with cases of a serious and possibly terminal nature, ensure that the patient is fully aware of the advisability of keeping their GP informed of their condition.” Homeopaths are renowned for denouncing modern medicine. Their founder, Samual Hahnemann, defined homeopathy in opposition to medicine and indeed blamed medicine for chronic illness. This paranoia and hostility is openly evident still on homeopathic discussion forums. Homeopaths are in denial of two hundred years of medical progress.It is no wonder that members might give misleading advice to their clients.
What is quite remarkable about this is that the Society of Homeopaths has received lots of complaints over the past year or so about homeopaths blatantly breaching their code of ethics, giving dangerous advice about their magic versions of vaccination and selling sugar pills as a malaria prophylactic and all these have been met with stonewalling, obfuscation and a refusal to recognise the problem.
So, why act now? That is a bit of a mystery. We know that the Society want to hand over their regulation activities to the Health Professions Council. Perhaps they are trying to appear to carry out what they say they carry out.
Perhaps thought there is more to this story that will reveal itself over time and that this move is tactical. That would be my bet. We shall surely find out soon.